Field Hockey: Huskies no match for Top 15 talent in rough road trip

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Well, it was fun while it lasted.  

After a huge weekend that saw the Huskies win two games against ranked teams at home, UConn dropped two on the road against conference foe Liberty and defending national champion North Carolina. 

The No. 16 Huskies’ matchup against Big East rival No. 13 Liberty wasn’t really close at any point during the 60-minute contest. The Flames downpoured a barrage of shots all game, outshooting UConn by 13 (the Huskies only had 10 shots total), including nine more shots on goal. Liberty was busy racking up the corners in this one, earning 11 to UConn’s six. 

The Flames put the pressure on early, with Lizzie Hamlet scoring her fifth of the year off of a nice Charlotte Vaanhold feed seven minutes into the contest. In the second quarter, it was Bethany Dykema who found the back of the cage, notching her second on the season off of one of Liberty’s five corners of the period. In the early part of the fourth, it was team MVP Jill Bolton who put the nail in the coffin, striking her 50th career goal. 

UConn’s highest point in the game came during garbage time, with All-Big East Preseason player Abby Gooderham scoring her first goal of the season with just under two minutes in the match. This goal, the Huskies’ only goal of the day, came off of a penalty stroke. 

Goalkeeper Cheyenne Sprecher was certainly busy in this one, earning a season-high 12 saves to just three goals allowed. The Big East Defensive Player of the Week did a great job considering the circumstances of the game, keeping this one a lot closer than it could have been. 

With this deflating loss, the Huskies look like they will have a much harder time winning the Big East, as rival Liberty improves  to 6-2 on the season and shows no signs of slowing down. 

UConn’s matchup against No. 7 North Carolina didn’t go much better. The Tar Heels had a decent offensive day, but looked fantastic compared to the Huskies, outshooting them by a multiple of five (15-3). UNC earned five corners to UConn’s zero.  

The game started out great for the Huskies, who struck first off of a Mckenna Sergi goal just four minutes in, capitalizing on a deep hit that snuck by Tar Heel keeper Abigail Taylor. The shot was the first of the game for either team. This, unfortunately, was the last time UConn had momentum all game. North Carolina was quick to retaliate, scoring in the second quarter thanks to NCAA Tournament MVP Erin Matson.  

The Tar Heels had trouble converting for a while after that, putting two more in the net in the fourth quarter, courtesy of Matson and Katie Dixon. This capped off the game for good, as the Huskies fell 3-1 for the second straight outing. 

With these two losses, UConn drops to 4-6 on the year (1-1 in conference). Expect the Huskies to fall this week in the Coaches’ Poll, but not by much, as they faced top-tier competition on the road. Realistically, the expectations weren’t too high against these great teams, but it would have been nice to see this squad take at least one out of two this weekend, especially the in-conference Liberty game. 

UConn hopes to turn things around next week, when they have a home-and-away weekend. They will host Providence this Friday and travel down to New Jersey to take on No. 17 Princeton on Sunday. 

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